After an amazing year of music, it’s finally time to move on and take a look at what’s next in the world of hip-hop. Hopefully 2012 will bring us as many hits, exciting collaborations and breakthrough albums as last year did. Take a look at the five albums I’m most anticipating for the first half of the year, as well as what to expect later on in 2012.
Rick Ross — “God Forgives, I Don’t” (Spring)
Rick Ross has become one of the biggest names in hip-hop over the last few years. With the 2011 signings of Wale and Meek Mill to his label, Maybach Music Group, his name and brand grew exponentially and will likely continue that growth in 2012. Ross released a brand new mixtape of 20 original songs called “Rich Forever” Jan. 5. At the time of release, the mixtape crashed the servers of the host website, LiveMixtapes, and caused a frenzy across the Internet, especially on Twitter. Now the attention turns to his upcoming fifth studio album, “God Forgives, I Don’t,” which is one of the most anticipated projects of 2012. He and his signees are also working on a follow-up to their “Self Made” collaboration album for 2012. If Ross can continue to deliver at this high of a level, “God Forgives, I Don’t” will be his best-selling album to date.
G.O.O.D. Music Compilation Album (Spring)
It seems like just yesterday when Kanye West took to Twitter to announce that his label, G.O.O.D. Music, will be releasing a compilation album this spring. Now one of the top labels in the game is putting the finishing touches on the album here in London. If you didn’t catch that, I’m studying abroad in London right now. I haven’t seen any of the label members with my own eyes, but Big Sean, Pusha T and producer Hit-Boy have been sharing pictures of the experience with their fans through social media. After Kanye successfully experimented working on a collaboration album last year with “Watch the Throne,” it’s safe to say that this album could be very special.
B.o.B — “Strange Clouds” (March 13)
It’s hard to imagine that it’s been over two and a half years since B.o.B dominated the radio with singles from his debut album, including “Beautiful Girls” featuring Bruno Mars and “Airplanes” featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore. After some time off, B.o.B is back with his sophomore album, “Strange Clouds,” due to hit stores March 13. So far, he has released two singles from the album, including the title track featuring Lil Wayne, and “Play the Guitar” featuring Andre 3000 of Outkast. If the rest of the album sounds like these two tracks, we’ll be in for quite a treat in March.
KiD CuDi and Dot Da Genius — “WZRD” (Feb. 28)
Kid CuDi and producer Dot Da Genius have been working on his “WZRD” project for quite some time now. The album seemed to be set for a Jan. 30 release date, but the other day, both artists announced that it has been pushed back to the end of February. Already released are “Brake” and a snippet of “Teleport 2 Me,” both of which have me optimistic that CuDi’s concept album will sound pretty good. He will be releasing the full version of “Teleport 2 Me” as well as “Dose of Dopeness” on the original release date to hold fans over for a month before the album hits stores. Hopefully all of the hard work and delays will lead to a great project. Also look out for CuDi on the aforementioned G.O.O.D. Music compilation album.
Nicki Minaj — “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” (April 3)
Although I’m not a huge fan of Nicki Minaj, it will be very interesting to see how she follows up her double-platinum debut album, “Pink Friday.” The first two singles, “Roman in Moscow” and “Stupid Hoe,” have been disappointments to fans and on the Billboard charts, where they have failed to reach the top 60. With that being said, I’m sure she has some big tricks and features up her sleeves that she’s saving for the album. After all, the biggest single from her debut, “Super Bass,” blew up months after the release and has been on the charts for 38 weeks. Soon enough, we’ll see how she brings together her sophomore album.
Other albums to keep an ear on later in 2012:
-“Watch The Throne 2” and new solo albums from both Kanye West and Jay-Z
-Asher Roth, Big Sean and J. Cole’s sophomore albums
-T.I.’s second post-prison album, “Trouble Man”
-New album from Eminem after taking 2011 off to work with his signees
-Debut albums from Frank Ocean and The Weeknd